Consider your own 'mini-foundation' to make donations

Foundation news | Sunday, November 15, 2015

Contact: Casey Richards

As the end of the year approaches, we all turn our attention to gift giving. All of us in the nonprofit sector hope charitable giving is part of your year-end activities.

Here's something that might be new to you: a donor-advised fund at the Blue Mountain Community Foundation.

A donor-advised fund may meet your and your family's needs because of its convenience. One gift can be distributed among many different nonprofits and charities in our community through a DAF.

Donors receive a charitable deduction against their income taxes when they give to their fund at Blue Mountain Community Foundation. And donors feel the joy of making this gift twice—when first giving to the Community Foundation, and again when the Community Foundation sends the gift in your name to the charities of your choice.

Nationally, the fastest-growing method of charitable giving is the donor-advised fund.

Walla Walla's Jim Peterson, retired vice president at Walla Walla Community College, thinks that more people in the Blue Mountain region should join this trend. As a speaker at Blue Mountain Community Foundation's Oct. 15 Celebration of Giving, he urged donors to think about opening at a donor-advised fund at BMCF.

"Sitting here at the table, I opened BMCF's new Annual Report and counted 23 donor-advised funds. There should be 123 or 223 or 323 donor-advised funds!" To appreciative laughter, Jim called himself a "selfish generous person." He said, "I give to what makes me happy." And part of that is his donor-advised fund.

At the same event, Joe and Donna Wujek also shared their experience with their donor-advised fund at BMCF.

Joe and Donna each spoke about how their family's approach to giving has evolved over time and the role of their DAF. Joe said, "The word 'philanthropy' means 'love of mankind.' We also give out of love of place. Walla Walla is a beautiful place, but we came to see that there are needs here."

They moved to Walla Walla 23 years ago to work and raise their family. Joe is a physician specializing in OB/GYN at the Walla Walla Clinic.

"The donor-advised fund makes it easy to give," Joe said.

Donna said at first they made donations on a fairly random basis, but, "After a while sat down and decided to give in the areas of homelessness, mental health, women, teens and adolescents at risk and preserving the land and open spaces."

Donna continued, "The DAF is flexible. We also hope our children will carry on this responsibility."

Jim also likes this aspect of a DAF, saying, "The fund can have a life beyond physical life of the donor. My daughters are going to continue this fundit's an estate-planning tool."

A donor-advised fund is a way for someone to make a significant gift to BMCF intending to make smaller gifts out of the fund later. A donor creates a fund at BMCF generally by check or appreciated securities, and then recommends to the Community Foundation where the gifts should be made.

Jim supports many nonprofits in our community through his DAF.

"I'm really proud that 'community' is the middle name of Blue Mountain Community Foundation. At the community college, where I spent many years, we took that word seriously too. The Community Foundation also helps smaller nonprofit organizations that might otherwise not be able to handle complex donations by receiving gifts of appreciated assets. Donor-advised funds help nonprofit organizations too as they give nonprofits access to more donors. And I trust the Community Foundation to do as I advise for my fund."

There are many good reasons for establishing a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation. We know the community and speedily respond to the recommendations by donors about gifts.

The Foundation's staff and Board are resources for donorsknowledgeable about nonprofit organizations, the community, local efforts to address problems, and the variety of charitable purposes and issues in our community.

Instead of a gift going to one nonprofit, people can have their own "mini-foundation" at the Community Foundation to make many gifts throughout the year.

Kari Isaacson is executive director of Blue Mountain Community Foundation. To learn more, call 509.529.4371, or email